Oscar History

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An Off-Key Starting Bell for the Best Actor Race

I assume by now that you've read Interview Magazine's much talked about interview with Joaquin Phoenix in which he hates on the utter bullshit of awards season?

A lot of people have already (and might continue to) lost their minds over this but Serious (Male) Thespians are allowed to get away with trashing the prize they're in the running for. See also: Marlon Brando, George C Scott and others throughout entertainment history. It's the actresses and the less Serious Thespians that have to tread carefully and bat their eyelashes at voters, play a smart hand and shake the right ones, and kiss the babies. The only time this other group (i.e. the less acclaimed talents or the actors with vaginas) can refuse to play the game and still be awarded for it is if they've garnered an unassailable legendary reputation (think Katharine Hepburn who, like Woody Allen, couldn't be bothered to attend her Oscar ceremonies) or delivered work so seismic that voters wouldn't have been able to ignore it and still feel even remotely like they've ever once contemplated the word "Best" in any real way (think Mo'Nique in Precious)

The only reason to worry about Phoenix's nomination chances are the depth of the leading actor field, not his personal statements.

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Reader Comments (15)

I'm prone, like with Black Swan recently, to underestimating the Academy's openness to movies that are outside their comfort zone. But Black Swan is The Turning Point compared to The Master's freakiness, ambling and inscrutability.
I think the toughness of the movie could be a second reason to worry about his chances. It's an incredible performance, but I don't see him as the sure-thing that the stars of The Sessions, Lincoln and Flight are.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Joaquin Phoenix gave the most impactful performance of the year. Its housed in a movie that'll surpass everything you deem more urgently effective. Drama programs nation wide won't dull the inherent need for male students to imitate Freddie Quell and his idiosyncrasies. If he's not the winner—or worst yet not a nominee—whoever takes it home will have to contend with the taint of robbing one of the greatest examples of once-a-lifetime, once-in-a-career, best of, work.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

I never know what to think of him, he doesn't have to be a cheerleader for awards, but he still goes to the ceremonies and he is a member of the Academy so it's a bit strange of him to make comments like this. It may not hurt his nomination chances but will likely affect him winning.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrami (ramification)

It has been a race since day one, but I believe it's growing out of proportion and we all get to see people we love doing all sorts of things. PR's step back a little!

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

If he is considered the Best Actor, then that's who should get it... but that mostly does not work ... politics. 4artful: ANOTHER TIME WE AGREE ON SOMETHING ...Sublime performance!!!

Dustin Hoffman once denigrated the Oscars... but when he won 2, he changed is mind about them!!!???

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

In all honesty this first struck me as a ploy to AID in him getting that best actor statue. He could play this story out Dustin Hoffman style and end up expressing appreciation despite being open about bitter feelings towards the award.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCory Rivard

I agree in part with this argument, but I wonder if Phoenix is viewed as the Serious Thespian you think him to be. With his odd behavior in regards to his "documentary" a couple of years back, followed by this comment, and considering that there are other talents waiting in the wings, I just wonder if it will leave a sour taste in folks' mouths and cause them to bump him down a couple of notches and possibly out of the race.

For an added dimension: how ironic that the person making these Oscar-bashing comments is the person who played the impulsive, out-of-control Freddie Quell.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Also, he was previously nominated in the Supporting Actor category for "Gladiator" ... didn't deride the Oscar then????

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I think the concept that female actors have to actively campaign is a contemporary expectation. Katherine Hepburn was not the only actress to avoid the ceremony or campaign, but she is often regarded as the only one because she was nominated so many times (and therefore, it was just more apparent). But if you go back 30 years or so, if a woman didn't show up to the ceremony or resist campaign, it wasn't necessarily scorned. Take the following - Maggie Smith, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Ellen Burstyn, Helen Hayes, Glenda Jackson .. There was a time when a respected actress who didn't play the game could still win (and be respected).

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllsworth

... but, he's right.

Outside this small world of blogs and pundtis, the fact that there's something called "awards season" sounds completely absurd. That there's an award called Oscar which is predicted on pedigree or buzz alone, that can be won on popularity alone, that has dubious and/or complicated rules but it's still seen as prestigious is just crazy.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Evan - 100% agree

Usually I had Phoenix as my predictions for winning. Not anymore.

Another low point for Phoenix's side - Right now, "The Master" is the lowest film by BO of Paul Thomas Anderson's filmography and with contenders with bigger films -At BP prospects and BO- it could hurt a lot.

Also, there's still the possibility of Bradley Cooper stealing the thunder. Yes, it sounds weird, but after his excellent reception at Hollywood Awards and his charm in interviews, could make wonders and Harvey Weinstein could support him instead Phoenix.

I still have Phoenix as a nominee, but right now, i'm not sure of him.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

OTT: Jessica Chastain is confirmed as Leading Actress for ZDT according Sasha Stone and Kris Tapley

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

I don't think there's anything crazy about awards season. everything, like sports, has this sort of thing. For the best of the best, however thats determined, to be awarded and seen is just something people like.Hype and buzz and all that is everywhere in life. People have buzz and hype too. its just how people think. And can we stop pretending popularity has nothing in common with best? Popularity is a quality, not the highest, but it's worth a damn lot.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpoppy

poppy: Exactly. The average and terrible do, ultimately, get caught and discarded, no matter the medium.
Evan: Also agree, as far as the win odds.
leon: Hmm. I think Silver Linings might just be a "keep an eye on him" kind of role/performance. In terms of affect on the nom field, I'd see it as more likely that these comments could draw enough votes toward Trintignant (The Great Silence, My Night at Maud's, The Conformist and, ESPECIALLY, Z and Three Colours: Red are a great potential career push for his nomination) and get him nominated over Day-Lewis.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Mike -- me too (on underestimating the academy)

poppy & iggy -- you both make a ton of sense arguing opposite sides of the equation. I guess the danger is on either side having no sense of the other... self-seriousness either way you slice it either for people who believe that popularity is END GAME and people who think they're above the "entertainment" aspects of the arts.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R
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